Trumpism Is Taking Over the Republican Party. Are Democrats Next?

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From Axios:

Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, according to two senior Senate GOP aides. “We aren’t stupid,” said one of the aides.

This is yet another example of the corrosive effect that Donald Trump is having on Washington culture—which, let’s face it, was not exactly a shining beacon to begin with. Last year Trump taught Republicans that you can keep your tax returns secret with no real explanation, and pay no price. After all, it won Trump the presidency, didn’t it? The lesson here is pretty simple: If secrecy is better than exposure, then keep things secret, and don’t let media pressure sway you into backing down or even bothering to explain yourself.

Greg Gianforte is another example. He assaulted a reporter, and later events (like pleading guilty to assaulting a reporter) made it clear that he knew exactly what he’d done. But on the day before his special election, he released a comically belligerent statement not only denying everything, but blaming the reporter for the whole thing. It was pure Trump. It was a flat lie, he knew it was a lie, and he didn’t care. It helped him win the election, and that’s all that matters.

James Comey’s testimony is another. He testified that Trump demanded loyalty and then asked him to drop the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. But on Fox News or Trump’s Twitter acount, you never heard about this. All you heard is that Comey’s testimony totally vindicated Trump. This produces the spectacle of Newt Gingrich—the former master who is now the pupil sitting at Trump’s feet—claiming that Trump should fire the special prosecutor because Comey’s testimony proved that nothing happened. If you get all your news from Fox or Breitbart or Limbaugh or the Trump Twitter account, that sounds completely reasonable.

Or take this from Paul Krugman yesterday about the Republican health bill:

The Senate GOP is working completely in secret, with no hearings, and anything it passes will surely also try to preempt the CBO.

You might think that this in part reflects conservative analyses that reach a different conclusion. But there aren’t any such analyses. Remember, OMB works for Trump; it has offered nothing. Even the Heritage Foundation, which used to be the go-to source for conservative creative accounting, hasn’t produced some implausible account of how the magic of markets will make it all work.

This is new….They used to at least pretend….Now they’re not even bothering to fake it.

Keep things secret. Tell whatever lies you need. Flatly misrepresent reality for folks who don’t follow the news and won’t know any better. Don’t waste time with even laughably preposterous policy analysis. Just do what you want to do and say what you need to say.

The only silver lining is that, so far, this hasn’t actually worked very well. Obviously it got Trump elected, but it hasn’t passed any bills or produced any major policy impacts. But it might. And if it turns out that it does work, Democrats will fall right in line whether they want to or not. Then we’ll have a country that’s literally run like a game show, not an actual place with the fate of actual human beings involved.

This is why everyone who cares about reality needs to make sure it doesn’t work.

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